- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 21, 2006

MoveOn.org vs. Democrat

The left-wing Internet group MoveOn.org is making an emergency effort to raise money to support an anti-war candidate in a March 7 primary against an incumbent Texas House Democrat.

“In less than three weeks a progressive Democrat, Ciro Rodriguez, will try to unseat a right-wing Democrat in the pocket of the Bush administration,” the George Soros-backed group said in an e-mail, asking members to “contribute whatever you can afford” to support Mr. Rodriguez’s campaign.

“Ciro Rodriguez’ opponent, Rep. Henry Cuellar, is a symbol of the sort of Democrat we need to replace. He supports the war and the Bush Medicare drug debacle. He votes one out of three times with the Republicans. … In the words of a MoveOn member in the district, ‘The Republicans don’t need anybody running in District 28, they have Henry Cuellar.’”

MoveOn.org said 84 percent of the respondents in its recent online poll supported the idea of supporting primary challengers against what the group labeled “right-wing Democrats.”

Gregory’s apology

NBC News White House correspondent David Gregory has apologized for his behavior in questioning presidential spokesman Scott McClellan about the hunting incident involving Vice President Dick Cheney.

During a press briefing last week, Mr. Gregory shouted at Mr. McClellan and at one point called the spokesman “a jerk.”

“I think I made a mistake,” Mr. Gregory said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think it was inappropriate for me to lose my cool with the press secretary representing the president. I don’t think it was professional of me.

“I was frustrated. I said what I said, but I think that you should never speak that way, as my wife reminded me, number one; and, number two, I think it created a diversion from some of the serious questions in the story. So I regret that. I was wrong, and I apologize.”

Mr. Gregory added: “But I, for one, don’t apologize for pushing hard for answers. I think people who view the news or view what I do through a partisan lens may think I was making a political statement. I was not. I make no apologies for pushing hard for information, because sometimes that’s hard to get.”

Trend arrows

“As recently as a few months ago, prospects for a Democratic takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006 looked marginal, at best,” Mark Gersh and Ed Kilgore write in Blueprint, the magazine of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.

“After slowly scratching its way back into contention in the three congressional cycles that followed the debacle of 1994, the party lost seats in the last two elections. Republicans, meanwhile, were enjoying all the benefits of incumbency, a sharp reduction in competitive districts due to a highly partisan round of GOP-engineered gerrymandering, and an ideological realignment of the electorate that had been fueling consistent Republicans gains in ‘red states.’ So Democratic pessimism seemed entirely rational,” the writers said.

“But at the beginning of 2006, the trend arrows have turned in a very different direction. With Republicans mired in a never-ending series of ethics scandals, approval ratings for President Bush and the GOP-controlled Congress are abysmal. House GOP leaders are particularly embattled. They have steadily lost control of their own membership, and with it, their ability to promote an agenda. Republicans’ extreme partisanship and take-no-prisoners tactics have also helped keep House Democrats united. Meanwhile, they’ve been running out of ways to pad their numbers: The harvesting of conservative districts in red states, especially in the South, has reached the point of diminishing returns.

“For the first time in more than a decade, the ‘lay of the land,’ as measured by vulnerable incumbents, open seats, and candidate recruitment, seems to be favoring Democrats. Moreover, Democrats need a net pickup of just 15 out of 435 seats in order to regain control of the House — a relatively modest number by historical standards, and one achieved by the minority party in four of the last eight midterm elections.

“With all this wind at their backs, Democrats may now be able to expand the number of competitive races and overwhelm vulnerable Republican incumbents who have survived by narrow margins in the past. Also in their favor will be an emerging Democratic advantage in candidate recruitment and retirement decisions, and a dwindling Republican margin in fundraising.”

English first

Seven out of 10 Alabama voters disagree with a recent decision by a county circuit judge who said state officials could continue giving driver’s license exams in foreign languages.

A poll of 800 registered voters, conducted last week by Tel Opinion Research Inc., a Lance Tarrance public opinion research firm, and commissioned by ProEnglish, an Arlington-based group that backs official English, also found that 95 percent of the voters agreed English should be the official language.

After Alabama voters agreed in 1990, by a margin of 9-to-1, to make English their official language, state officials stopped giving driver’s license exams in other languages, but the policy was challenged and overturned in federal court in 1997.

Alabama appealed, and in 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Alabama could require the exams to be taken in English. Despite the ruling, state officials decided to continue letting driver’s license applicants take exams in any of 13 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Farsi.

“This poll shows there is a huge gulf between state officials and the people of Alabama over the issue of letting people who cannot understand English get driver’s licenses,” said ProEnglish executive director K.C. McAlpin. “There has to be a limit to multilingual pandering.”

The ProEnglish organization is appealing a Feb. 2 ruling by Montgomery, Ala., Circuit Judge William A. Shashy on a lawsuit by five of its Alabama members seeking to reinstate giving driver’s license examinations exclusively in English. The plaintiffs argued that the change was required to comply with the Alabama Constitution.

Among the poll’s other findings: 84 percent of voters agreed that letting immigrants take driver’s license exams in their native language was a threat to public safety, and 93 percent said requiring immigrants to take the exams in English would encourage them to learn English.

A simple plan

Santa Clarita, Calif., has come up with a simple way to slow the flow of illegal aliens into its part of the state.

The City Council voted 5-0 to adopt Mayor Cameron Smythe’s proposal that the city automatically void contracts with vendors found to have hired illegal immigrants, reports California newsletter writer and activist Steve Frank.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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